Creative Prompts for August

Feel you want to write or draw something, but just not sure what to tackle, today?  Or want fresh warmup challenges?  Sketchbook Skool have given a challenge a day for August!

What do you mean – it’s a little bit late telling us this, August has started already?!  Do I hear dissension?  Verily, I raise a quizzical eyebrow.

But wait – let’s find the positive – you can start today and choose either the prompt for the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of August.  Oh look – the challenge against today’s date is “First” – so that takes you to the first anyway!!

Right: pencils sharpened, favourite writing pen aloft, knitting needles at stun-ningly gorgeous, or whatever creative tools you wish…… and GO!


The absurdity of writing/not writing poems

If writing a poem seems absurd – still, why not?  Perhaps it’s equally strange not to write? Our encouragement to write, today, is from Nobel poet, Wislawa Szymborska of Poland

I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.

These few lines are taken from her poem, “Opportunities” – and a lovely example of her (more…)

Poet with L plates

Advice on beginning to write poetry by US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins.  (Video under 3 mins.)


Read other people’s poetry.  Read widely.  Read.  Read.  A lot.    ABout 10,000 hours worth, to get a sense of what has gone before.  As you read, you are naturally absorbing the technique and rhythms of poetry.  It’s like learning to play the cello – you don’t just get one and play brilliantly, you practice and do classes.

Your first writings will probably be for self-expression.  This is for yourself.  But if you want your work to be read and enjoyed by others – then you have that in mind as you write – “I am making something for someone else”.  There are 3 parts to a poem – line, sentence stanza (or verse).  You are trying to make all of them good.

The wastebasket is the writer’s best friend.  If a poem isn’t working, don’t force it, start another.

“If I’m writing for a while and I’m writing maybe a failure and another failure … a poem will come, often a little poem,” he said. “It has nothing to do with what I’ve written but it would not have occurred had I not been failing.”

Phoning it in – poetry

Stumbled across this today on the blog Julie Unplugged: “10 smart ways to use your phone to improve your writing”


  1. Listen to conversation around you and capture rich/true dialogue using your audio recording setting.
  2. Take photos, especially those surprise images to write about later. Once you set the intention to be surprised visually, you’ll spot more and more.
  3. Collect “jots” of writing in your notes program in three words or less… what you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel emotionally.
  4.  Use your phone’s timer: Do timed stream of consciousness writing at any time in any space – literally write down what you are thinking/noticing, without censoring or trying to make sense. Do timed writing with your note book or straight onto mobile, wherever you are.
  5. Keep a one-sentence journal. At the end of the day, write a one sentence summary of either the entire day or whatever stand out event happened
  6. You can practice haiku, micropoetry – also helps to practice writing tweet sized, meaning and image filled sentences. Try it! Three “lines” – five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. (If you go to twitter and search the hashtag #haiku for more inspiration.)
  7.  In your calendar note times (and set alarms!) for sunrises, sunsets or other “time attached” subjects to jog your elbow to be in the right place at the right time.
  8. Find writing time when bored – take notes and people will assume you are texting.
  9. Create writing prompts from what you see. There is never, ever, EVER “nothing to write about!” You can tweet short awarenesses and write them up another time. Examples: “The waitress with very red lipstick reminds me of…” (use later for a stream of consciousness prompt.) “I wonder where that old man at the bus stop is going?” (write later about traveling via bus, the elderly, your Grandpa) “The fallen tree at the side of the road calls me to prune my life of what doesn’t work.” (and later, write more.)
  10. Write how-to articles. Guess what technology was used to write this one?



Write, right, what shall I write?

So, writer/wouldbewriter, the Christmas hols are over, either

a) you want to sit down at the computer and write for publication, but the horror of the flashing cursor on a blank page daunts you

b) someone has bought you a lovely journal to write in – or you’ve got your eye on that beautiful exercise book or pen that you’d love to have but aren’t sure you’d use….  What’s to be done?

Any or all of these starting points below should help.

1. Writing prompts.  This is where some external person suggests a phrase or outline to use as subject/jumping off point for creative writing.  You’ll find one new phrase for each day of this new year at


2. Go through workbook developing a practice of being an artist (written or visual).  That helpful, instructive, encouraging and challenging voice in your ear.  Here’s a most useful book

“The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  In print, read and used for 25 years, it is a classic – and therefore easy to find in most libraries for free.  (But it is worth buying even a secondhand copy).  Following it and doing what it says will build some very useful daily practices for being creative.

3. Listen to good advice.  Go to Audible and buy for download “Word by Word” by Anne Lamott.  This is the writer/speaker’s own voice, giving a couple of seminars (total 2.5 hours) on writing.  She encourages you to write and push through the awkwardness and early drafts which look hopeless.  Along the way she is funny, witty, down to earth and tells her own personal story into becoming a writer.



Wanna write a bestseller novel?

You have company: two people and the 10,000 audience who listen to them.

Mark Stay and Mark Desveaux are attempting to write a bestseller within a year. One is a published author and screenwriter and has worked within the industry, the other is a “dream coach” and broadcaster who coaches other people to make their dreams happen – writing is his dream.

Together, they have launched a podcast and shanghaied various guesting crews aboard of publishing insiders: editors, publishers – to bring their expertise to your ears.

There’s a weekly podcast – catch up (they’re on episode 10 already) here:


And in their own words, in this video:



Fuller story over at the Guardian at this snappily named link: